We ask you, Christian brothers (and sisters), speak to those who do not want to work. Comfort those who feel they cannot keep going on. Help the weak. Understand and be willing to wait for all men. Do not let anyone pay back for the bad he received. But look for ways to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (NLV)
From childhood, Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love every part of it…from the decorations, to the Christmas carols, sparkly lights and yummy cookies. Christmas parties, choir concerts, family gatherings — it is all the very best.
Yet, this year, there is a pall over my heart. The Paris and San Bernardino shootings, a friend whose son attempted suicide, another in the hospital with congestive heart failure, a neighbor who hurts all the time from a fall and broken hip, family members struggling with anxiety and depression.
If this is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” what happened? Unlike the headline from the New York Daily News, “God isn’t fixing this,” I know that He is. We don’t know what is going on the heavenlies but we do know we have a God who is not surprised, is greatly saddened, and is in control.
So what are we to do in this time of upheaval, fear, sorrow and anger? The verses quoted today give us some ideas.
Many are out of work and can’t find a job. They may be friends or family and this is about the worst time of year to look for a job or have Christmas less than two weeks away. But you can look them in the eye and speak to them. Let them know they are not invisible to you. Encourage them with a smile and squeeze on the arm.
Some are so discouraged and downhearted. Life is messy and not what was expected. Too much time spent in doctor’s offices or hospitals. No energy to do shopping or make cookies. The phone is silent. Pain lurks and and then erupts. Offer them a ride and have a latte and bit of conversation at a favorite coffee bar. Stop by and wrap some of their presents or take them for mailing. Send an email or text of hope and cheer. Smile and give them a hug.
Be patient. Waiting is the hardest work of hope. We live in a world of instant gratification so that we assume no response or delayed response means no. But that isn’t always the case. Hope gives us the courage to keep on, to trust God with the hard stuff — the parts that don’t make sense — and know that He loves and cares more than we can ever fully understand.
Be on the lookout for someone who is hurting and be that little bit of light and hope. And SMILE. Christmas is coming!